As part of its mission to ensure long-term preservation of and access to digital archaeological data, Digital Antiquity has partnered with Washington State University through principal investigator Dr. Timothy Kohler to add the records of the Dolores Archaeological Program (DAP) to tDAR.  This project is supported by the Bureau of Reclamation, which sponsored the original archaeological investigations.

When the Bureau of Reclamation began the construction of McPhee Dam near Dolores, Colorado, federal law required an archaeological investigation of the area that would be affected by the new reservoir. During 1978-86 the Dolores Archaeological Program (DAP) employed more than 500 people and took over eight years to survey and retrieve information from 1600 prehistoric households and villages in the Dolores River Valley. The DAP was the largest public archaeology project ever undertaken in the United States. Archaeologists fully excavated 120 sites, providing an intensive look at Ancestral Puebloan life in the Dolores area. The resulting collections are preserved at the Anasazi Heritage Center, which is a legally-designated federal repository for archaeological materials from public lands.

The DAP digital files document a large amount of data from the recovery project area in southwestern Colorado, which is now submerged under the McPhee Reservoir. This collection is a remarkable acquisition for tDAR in terms of both its scope and depth; these data have been foundational to scholars studying the ecological, historical, and social relationships among ancient populations in the northern Southwest.  Interpretations of human community dynamics based on the DAP data also are of general interest for comparative anthropological and archaeological studies.  Once these data are contributed to tDAR, they will be available to a broader scientific community as well as to interested members of the general public.

The tDAR website has been updated to reflect new information and software improvements available to users. Most of these updates are in the Features and Why Use tDAR pages.  The new information highlights the varied functionality of tDAR, as well as its ease of use. Additionally, the revised pages reflect a more streamlined communication paradigm, with succinct, subject-divided, bulleted lists to deliver necessary information.

Additional updates will be added as the “How to Use tDAR” page is created. Although this page is not yet publicly available, it will soon provide users up-to-date information about improvements to the tDAR user interface and other aspects of using the archive and its tools.

Digital Antiquity and tDAR remain committed to the preservation and management of digital data, including our own websites. Please let us know what you think!

In 2011, Digital Antiquity is hosting a series of workshops to discuss issues and topics related to archaeological information management.  Our organization has as its dual mission improving the ease with which archaeological information can be accessed, as well as ensuring its long-term preservation.  With funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the assistance of our co-sponsor, the SRI Foundation, the workshops provide venues for the discussion of archaeological information management needs.  Participants also consider how Digital Antiquity and the Digital Archaeological Record (tDAR) digital archive can help to meet the needs of data discovery, searching, integration, and preservation for archaeological management, public outreach, and research.

The first workshop, in February 2011, was held in Washington, DC and featured attendees from a variety of federal agencies, state historic preservation offices, and national cultural resource management firms. This workshop provided Digital Antiquity with much-needed feedback and constructive criticism from governmental and corporate contributors to American archaeology.

On May 13, 2011, Digital Antiquity held a workshop at ASU’s Tempe campus for members of the Arizona Archaeological Council (AAC). AAC members were impressed by the access, search, and storage abilities of tDAR.  Digital Antiquity staff guided attendees through a series of demonstrations. Digital Antiquity values its relationship with the AAC and is dedicated, as updates to tDAR move forward, to continue incorporating member feedback and strengthening communication with this outstanding volunteer organization.

The third workshop in the series will take place May 24-25, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. This colloquium includes participants from tribal archaeology programs, the Bureau of Land Management, US Forest Service, Bureau of Reclamation, National Park Service, State Historic Preservation Offices, and CRM firms. As part of the discussions at the workshop, Digital Antiquity staff will solicit suggestions for improving tDAR so that it can be as useful as possible for public agencies and private firms, as well as to academic archaeologists. We are looking forward to a productive interchange in Denver!

If you or your organization is interested in attending a future tDAR workshop, please contact Digital Antiquity for more information.

Digital Antiquity is pleased to announce the following grants for the 2011 Digital Antiquity-tDAR Grants Program.  A few additional proposals still are under consideration.  Congratulations are in order to:

  1. Lori Reed of the National Park Service for her proposal, “Aztec Ruins National Monument Digital Archives Project;”
  2. Gregory Brown for his proposal, “Ingestion of Data from Comparative Archaeological Study of Colonial Chesapeake Culture Project;”
  3. Stephen Mrozowski and Christa Beranek of the Fiske Center for Archaeological Research (University of Massachusetts, Boston) for their proposal, “Fiske Center for Archaeological Research; Application to Digital Antiquity”;
  4. Jennifer Haas of the Great Lakes Archaeological Research Center for her proposal, “Great Lakes Archaeological Center Proposal for tDAR Archiving” (adding four large-scale projects from the northern Midwest to tDAR);
  5. David R. Abbott and M. Scott Thompson of Arizona State University and Cory Breternitz of Paleowest, Inc. for their proposal, “A Digital Antiquity Proposal: Ingesting Digital Data Sets and Project Reports from Soil System, Inc’s Data Recovery at Pueblo Grande, Phoenix, AZ;”
  6. Eric Ingbar of Gnomon, Inc., and Robert G. Elston for their proposal, “Publication of Digital Data from Tosawihi Quarries, Nevada;”
  7. Pearce Paul Creasman and Jeffrey S. Dean of the Laboratory of Tree Ring Research (University of Arizona) for their proposal, “Incorporating Archaeological Tree-Ring Dates and Metadata from the US Southwest into the Digital Archaeological Record;”
  8. Matthew T. Boulanger and Michael D. Glascock of the Archaeometry Laboratory at the University of Missouri Research Reactor for their proposal, “Digitization and Dissemination of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Archaeometric and Archaeological Database;”
  9. Stephen Reichardt and Thomas H. Guderjan of the Blue Creek Archaeological Project, University of Texas at Tyler for their proposal, “A Digital Data Archiving Approach to Managing Data from the Ancient Maya Civilization” (data from Blue Creek site, Belize);
  10. Alycia Hayes and Derek Toms of the National Park Service for their proposal, “Casa Grande Ruins National Monument Grant Proposal Award Request;”
  11. Michael Nassaney of Western Michigan University for his proposal, “Digital Storage of Fort St. Joseph Archaeological Data;” and
  12. James Roscoe of the Humboldt State University Cultural Resources Facility for his proposal, “Humboldt State University Cultural Resources Facility; Digital Antiquities Grant Proposal” (records pertaining to archaeology and history of Humboldt County, California).

    We thank all who submitted proposals to the Digital Antiquity-tDAR Grants Program, and we are excited to partner with the funded investigators as they work to ingest new data into tDAR!

    Digital Antiquity staff and collaborators were on hand in Sacramento at the 76th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology (SAA). At the Digital Antiquity booth in the Convention Exhibit Hall, staff demonstrated tDAR to visitors, answered their questions, and provided additional information. We thank all of you who stopped by to learn about tDAR, to sign up for Digital Antiquity eNews, or just to say hello. To those of you who couldn’t make it to Sacramento this year: you can still learn about tDAR by browsing existing content, registering in order to upload your own data, and joining the Digital Antiquity mailing list to receive the eNews.

    Digital Antiquity staff also participated in three program sessions held at the SAA meeting. One of these, a SAA Forum, “Using the Digital Archaeological Record (tDAR) for Management and Research,” presented examples of using tDAR in specific archaeological projects. Another SAA Forum, “Planning for Archaeological Digital Data Management,” discussed how tDAR can be used to satisfy the the recently highlighted requirement for data management plans as part of NSF research proposals. A third session, a SAA Electronic Symposium, “Mortuary Practices in the American Southwest: Meta-Data Issues in the Development of a Regional Database,” demonstrated the basic work involved in creating a regional database (and its uses), as well as the value of a tool like tDAR for such a group of researchers.

    We hope to see you next year in Memphis!

    Digital Antiquity maintains its commitment to digital archaeological data preservation in part through continuous attention to the tDAR software. The Debitage release of tDAR (Spring 2011) focuses on advanced search and browsing capabilities, as well as significant changes to storage infrastructure. The update includes the following primary components:

    • The finalized version of the Transatlantic Archaeological Gateway to enable searching of Projects across ADS (UK) and tDAR content
    • A completely redesigned infrastructure for processing and storing datasets including improved support for MS Access databases
    • Significantly improved advanced search tools
    • RSS/ATOM feeds for tDAR search results
    • An improved uploading interface
    • Numerous bug fixes

    The Digital Antiquity tDAR Grants Program has received a wide range of grant proposals for digital archaeological data preservation and curation projects.  Proposals have been submitted by CRM firms, public agencies, and academic and research organizations.

    The evaluation of received proposals is underway and awards will be announced as proposals are approved.

    Proposals are still being accepted and will be reviewed in the order in which they are received.  To enter a proposal, please review the guidelines for preparation and submission on the Digital Antiquity web page.

    On February 22-23, 2011, Digital Antiquity and the SRI Foundation sponsored a workshop on archaeological information management.  Participants included representatives of many U. S. agencies and departments, including the Department of Defense, the Bureau of Land Management, the Corps of Engineers, the Department of the Interior, the U. S.  Air Force, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Federal Highway Administration, and the U. S. Army.  Also participating were current and past officials of the State Historic Preservation Offices of Georgia, Maryland, and Texas and two representatives of national CRM firms.

    Participants reviewed the current status of archaeological information management, in particular how digital data and documents can be accessed and how they are preserved for future use.    Attendees agreed on the importance of preservation and curation facilities for digital archaeological data and the challenges of access, preservation, and management.  Participants considered how Digital Antiquity and tDAR could be useful to help their organizations meet data access and preservation needs.  Participants also drafted an action plan to improve the current state of digital archaeological data preservation and management.  Digital Antiquity will work directly with various organizations on implementation of the work plan.

    On March 2, the Digital Data Interest Group (DDIG) released its annual report to the Society for American Archaeology (SAA). The report summarizes advances in digital data curation, including the new NSF requirement for data management plans and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy call for comment on a possible requirement that publicly funded research results be publicly accessible.

    The report also highlights tDAR and Open Context as digital data resources, the former as a repository and the latter as a publication venue. To view the full context of the report, check it out on Digging Digitally, the official DDIG blog.

    Come see us at the Society for American Archaeology’s 76th Annual Meeting in Sacramento, California from March 30 – April 3, 2011. Digital Antiquity will be at Booth 126 in the Exhibition hall. Additionally, members of the Digital Antiquity staff will be participating or chairing several fora:

    • Planning for Archaeological Digital Data Management: Digital Antiquity and Open Context have organized a forum for archaeologists to discuss planning for access to and preservation of  digital archaeological data and documents.  Last year, the National Science Foundation (NSF) mandated that proposals include a “data management plan” in order to be considered for funding.  The objective of this requirement is to ensure that NSF-generated data be more accessible and preserved for future uses.  The ultimate goal is to broaden research opportunities by making access to NSF-generated data easier.  The requirement represents a challenge to grant seekers not familiar with the conceptual and technical issues of data sharing and long-term preservation.  To help SAA members better understand NSF’s requirement and how to address it, this forum will introduce guides to best practice in digital data management and two archaeological digital data management systems, the Digital Archaeological Record (tDAR), maintained by Digital Antiquity and Open Context, maintained by the Alexandria Archive.
    • Using the Digital Archaeological Record (tDAR) for Management and Research: Increasingly archaeological information about archaeological resources exists in digital formats.  Digital data present both opportunities and challenges.  If effectively archived, digital data are more easily accessed, searched, and shared than paper records.  Yet digital data are more fragile and frequently treated as paper documents, making them completely inaccessible and easily destroyed or forgotten.  There are efforts underway to improve such situations.  Presenters will provide summaries of archival projects, examples of comparative studies using digital data integration tools, the state of digital data access and preservation, copyright and intellectual property issues, and general guidelines about digital data access and preservation.
    • Mortuary Practices in the American Southwest: The study of prehistoric mortuary practices in the American Southwest is undergoing tremendous change in the new millennium. The challenges (and opportunities) of NAGPRA implementation, declines in the number of large samples being excavated, and loss of data from previously excavated samples have altered mortuary archaeology in the region. Given this state of affairs, the development of an integrated regional database of prehistoric mortuary practices is imperative. This session at the 76th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology in Sacramento, CA is devoted to the first stages of creating such a data set. Participants in the session will develop the frameworks and structures for building a regional mortuary database. The database that is developed will expand the potential for research with existing and future burial samples.

    To learn more about the Digital Antiquity forums and other events at the 76th Annual SAA Meeting, read the collection of abstracts. A list of other sessions related to digital archaeology and data is available on the Digging Digitally blog.

    We hope to see you there!  Visit the Digital Antiquity exhibit and say “hello.”